The third-place game for the 2012 NCAA water polo tournament features No. 3 seeded St. Francis and No. 4 Air Force Falcons. Both teams struggled in their opening games as Air Force fell 18-7 to USC, while St. Francis lost 17-3 to UCLA.
This game should be much more competitve as Air Force is ranked 10th in the nation while St. Francis is 11th. Prior to their semifinal loses, each team was playing their best water polo of the season.
St. Francis' offense got into a rut against UCLA, and that can happen when playing the second best team in the nation. Plus, head coach Igor Samardzija talked about how their team is so young:
"The offense didn't work," said Samardzija. "It got stagnant and we didn't stick to the game plan. I think since we are such a young team, we just got overwhelmed. The game plan was to stay calm and play four quarters. We got burned in the first half. UCLA is a great team though and we are happy to be here. We are a young team and hope that we learned a lot. We were underdogs throughout the season. Hopefully we can shake it off and come back tomorrow."
Look for St. Francis' offense to get back to their normal self on Sunday afternoon. St. Francis will need Marko Genčić, who has scored 65 goals this year, to have a great game if they are going to get the win, plus he was named the MVP of the CWPA Eastern tournament. Then there is goal keeper Igor Mladenovic who was named to the CWPA North first-team, and the first-team All-Eastern selection.
The best player in the pool arguably belongs to Air Force goalie Mike Fish. He was the sole reason that they were able to hang around with USC for almost a half. He was named to the second team all-WWPA team, and is averaging just over 12 goals per game.
Power play could be the difference in this game, Air Force has been hit and miss this year. However, through their run of the WWPA tournament they were able to improve upon that aspect which led to victories. Or the little things could be the difference such as a quick put back or a team getting a quick steal on the perimeter then scoring on a counter attack goal.
The consolation game begins at 4 p.m. ET and will be streamed online at NCAA.com.